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Surrey terror incident: Man armed with baseball bat and knife shouts racist comments as he attacks teenager

‘It has hallmarks of a terror event, inspired by the far right,’ says Britain’s counterterrorism chief Neil Basu

Peter Stubley
Sunday 17 March 2019 18:19 GMT
Officers were called to reports of a stabbing in Viola Avenue, Stanwell, at 10.30pm on Saturday
Officers were called to reports of a stabbing in Viola Avenue, Stanwell, at 10.30pm on Saturday (PA)

The stabbing of a teenager in a Surrey village is being investigated as a terrorist incident inspired by the far right, police said.

Witnesses claimed the suspect shouted “kill a Muslim” and “white supremacy” and brandished a knife and a baseball bat before the Saturday night attack in Stanwell.

A 19 year-old man was taken to hospital with injuries described as “non-life-threatening”.

Counterterrorism officers are leading the investigation and a 50-year-old man from Stanwell has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and a racially aggravated public order offence.

Britain’s counterterrorism chief Neil Basu said: “Whilst this investigation is still in its infancy, it has hallmarks of a terror event, inspired by the far right, and therefore it has been declared a terrorism incident.”

Surrey Police said they were first called to reports of a man acting aggressively and shouting racist abuse while carrying a baseball bat and a knife in Viola Avenue, Stanwell, shortly before 10.30pm. Several nearby vehicles were also damaged.

A few minutes later officers were called to reports of a stabbing in a nearby Tesco car park. It is believed the same suspect was involved.

Armed officers were deployed to the scene and the 50 year-old man was arrested.

Vincent Sutherland, who lives on the road with his wife and children, told reporters he heard shouting at around 8pm on Saturday.

Mr Sutherland said: “He was shouting ‘kill a Muslim’ and ‘white supremacy’, and then I went inside and I heard a load of banging.”

“I don’t think he’s capable of what they are taking into consideration. He’s polite, he always says hello to me.”

Nemer Salem, a 24 year-old Syrian who lives on the street, said he had heard a man shouting racist slurs out of a window.

“He started saying some crazy things about Muslims and just shut the window and went inside. I’m a Muslim and I got a little bit worried.”

Another resident, who did not want to be identified, said the attacker was ”walking in the middle of the road swinging a shiny weapon”.

“I turned around and ran down the next road, hid in an alley, waited for the coast to be clear and ran,” she added.

“He had something covering his mouth and nose and his hood up, so I could only see his eyes and his forehead. It was very scary.”

However the girlfriend of the arrested man told Press Association he “needs help, rather than being classed as a terrorist.”

She said: “It’s not like him, he’s definitely 100% not a terrorist, he’s the loveliest guy you could meet.

“He’s had a lot going on in his life and I’ve stood by him and I think this was just something that tipped him.

“It’s all got out of control. He’s the love of my life and I will stand by him.”

Police are urging the public to “remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police”.​

Mr Basu said: “Police are committed to tackling all forms of toxic extremist ideology, which has the potential to threaten public safety and security. Local officers will be out and about providing reassurance and protective security advice to communities, places of worship and businesses.

“Our utmost priority is keeping the public safe. Counterterrorism policing and security partners continue to work tirelessly to stop and disrupt attacks in the UK and to prevent people from being drawn into violent extremism. Police also routinely carry out daily activities to provide protection and security to the public, institutions and businesses. This activity remains under constant review to counter the threats that the UK is facing.”

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Theresa May tweeted her thanks to the emergency services “for their handling of the terrorist incident in Stanwell”. She added: “My thoughts are with the injured man, and his family and friends. Vile, hateful far-right extremism has no place in our society.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement: “We must stand together as a society and reject the terrorists and extremists who seek to divide us.

“Now’s the moment for us all to challenge the hatred, ignorance and violence they peddle and stand up for the kind of country we are and want to be. A welcoming, tolerant, proudly diverse country that draws strength and prosperity from that diversity.

“As Home Secretary I’m determined that every individual and community should feel safe to live their lives. To any communities who are feeling vulnerable and under threat I say we are with you. You benefit our country, you are part of our country, part of us.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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